I’ve always been one of those children who had their noses stuck in a book for the majority of the time they spent awake, and spent the rest of it wearing pink glasses with round lenses and being awkward. For some reason, I read less and less as I got older, and I’ve loved getting back to it recently. I discovered Hunted through a friend and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, though dystopian fiction isn’t usually my thing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to give it a review. Here goes.
Author: Robert Woods
Those that are dead are the lucky ones. Most of the Earth’s population has been wiped out. Those that were spared are doomed to go on living in an empty world full of memories and ghosts. Mark is one of those few, surviving in the forest on the edge of his hometown in crippling isolation. His existence is purposeless. He scavenges for what he can whilst doing everything to avoid the Hunters, deadly creatures that stalk through the ruins in search of prey. Then one day, Mark finds something on one of his journeys. Something he never imagined he could find. A child – completely helpless and destined to be the world’s next victim. Mark knows what he must do. He takes the child and raises him as his own. But in a world fraught with danger and with no hope of a future, he soon finds himself tortured by his decision. And it won’t be long before they face a new threat – one far more dangerous than Hunters – that will push that decision to its breaking point.
Firstly – huge thanks to Robert for giving me a copy of Hunted. If you fancy a post-apocalyptic page turner, this one’s for you. A stunning first novel with fantastic imagery, attention to detail and story-telling that got my pulse racing along with the characters.
Personally, the characters made this book for me. Each and every one had such depth to them, and the way they fit in with the post-apocalyptic landscape and with one another had clearly been well thought out. Mark is the protagonist of protagonists. Portrayed as a fatherly figure who looks out for Jake as if he were his own, he is the glue that holds the story together. He represents what it is to be fundamentally human, and this shines through particularly when juxtaposed against the desolate, quite literally dog-eat-dog world. Without giving too much away, Robert manages to add a chilling side to his character, which ironically teaches Jake valuable survival skills and helps him be a better father figure through a less than ideal childhood.
Jake, on the other hand, would have been a more challenging character to write. A five year old child could easily have been written using all the cliches in the book, so to speak. But no. There was a real sense of maturing throughout the story, but every so often, Jake would revert to his childlike disposition in the moments that counted most. This gave a much more realistic and dare I say it – human feel to the story.
The primary antagonist was a thorough delight. I’m partial to a good villain, and this one was everything I could have asked for. Cold-blooded, psychotic, pure evil – I thoroughly enjoyed every scene. The fact that he was introduced fairly late into the book was effective and personally, heightened the impact dramatically.
What struck me most was the imagery Robert creates with his descriptive language. From the chase scenes through the mazes of narrow streets and abandoned houses to the more intimate moments, I felt as if I were right there with the characters. I found myself rooting for the protagonists, and appalled at the coldness of the antagonists. My heart raced throughout the more intense scenes, and I felt every pang of emotion the characters were experiencing. No spoilers, but the chase scene in chapter 3 is something else.
In terms of writing, Hunted is right up there. Robert uses an interesting technique where he switches perspectives and timing of events with every chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed this – it was done in a way that was easy to follow and added to the impact of the story rather than giving it a disjointed feel. It also drew my attention to details that seemed minor at the time, but would soon emerge to play a crucial role in later events. The language is of course, fantastic – descriptive and effective whilst being easy to read. The story was not at all predictable, and surprises were scattered throughout at just the right moments in the right doses. Would throughly recommend.
Robert Woods was born in the UK in 1996. He studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton for four years, a course which was partly taken due to his deep-rooted interest in science fiction, and has been a season ticket holder at Reading Football Club for the majority of his life. Throughout his childhood, Robert has harboured a passion for books and for writing fiction. This passion eventually amalgamated itself in the form of Hunted, which he wrote as his first novel during his third year at university.
Special thanks to Rob for giving me my own copy, and to Sydney for lending me hers in exchange for lots of garlic prawn pasta.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored in the form of a gifting – all opinions are my own. All images used in this post have been photographed and edited exclusively for thenellybean by J, unless specified.